I recently reported on the Department of Defense (DoD) denying Ritter-appointed Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher’s request for a waiver from the law requiring ballots be sent out to military personnel no later than 45 days before the general election.
Less widely reported has been Buescher’s call to address the problem by urging the legislature to move Colorado’s primary election earlier on the calendar. Based on the waiver request sent to the DoD, it looks like the Democratic official would like to see the primary moved up 7 weeks — from August 14 to June 26 in the upcoming 2012 election year. Of course, a change in the law would have an impact on the timing of the caucus and assembly process. (Statewide assemblies would have to be held by April 10.)
Is the question of whether to move up Colorado’s election calendar a viable campaign issue for the Secretary of State’s race? It’s easy for it to get lost in the clutter of a lot of campaign issues, some more serious than others. But why not? After all, maybe there is (or was) another solution to comply with the MOVE Act and ensure Colorado military personnel are able to receive and return their ballots in a timely manner.
Reflecting on this story then, it was quite the coincidence to find a notice from a new group in my email inbox, the Military Voter Protection Project:
The right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights of American democracy. It has been defended for well over 200 years by the sacrifices our men and women in uniform. Yet, when it comes to their right to vote—our military members’ right to choose the next Commander in Chief or their elected representatives—their voices have long been silenced by an electoral process that has failed them. That silence was most evident in the 2008 when thousands of absentee military ballots never received by the military voter or received after the election. The MVP Project is here to defend our military members’ right to vote and to provide them with the very right that they defend.
The albatross around candidate Bernie Buescher’s electoral neck? Quite possibly. But only if well-qualified Republican challenger Scott Gessler gets the support he deserves. Until then, let’s open up the debate.